‘Diary’ by Tammam Azzam at Ayyam Gallery Dubai

In the exhibition ‘Diary,’ Tammam Azzam, renowned for his profound examinations of image and space destruction and reconstruction, presents works that manipulate perspective. Horizon lines stretch outward, urban vistas are dissected like window frames, creating captivating scenes. One Untitled 2021 painting portrays a turquoise sea-blue sky against an earthy terrain reminiscent of Syria’s lava fields. This tonality, carried from Syria, links diverse locations, including scenes from Berlin. Four 2022 studies on paper focus on a Berlin building, mapping its structure with a grid of windows that shift from empty plots to filled and fused rectangles. Azzam employs colour to transform architecture into subjective reality, surrounded by conventional or unconventional skies.

Tammam Azzam, Untitled, 2023, Paper collage on canvas, 90 x 130 cm

A significant shift in Azzam’s artistic journey occurred in 2018 when he delved into paper collages. Layering papers of varying weights with meticulous colour use, he moves beyond the war-torn narrative, constructing visual arcs broader than displacement. Collages on canvas, resembling intricate yet imperfect puzzles, represent a vision on the cusp of formation. The works symbolise the delicate balance between fragility and creation, merging weathered façades with abstract natural elements. In pieces like “Neukladow,” Azzam combines opacity with washes and reflections of water, creating nuanced depictions of empty roads resembling marble veins.

Tammam Azzam, Untitled, 2023, Paper collage on canvas, 170 x 130 cm

His work goes beyond the visible field, creating a topography of time and rhythm. In a 2023 collage, copper-toned tectonic plates evoke the earth’s crust or an icy lake, with a vertical, cracked wall shifting the viewer’s perspective. Azzam’s frontal viewpoint emphasises a minute scale within more-than-human worlds, portraying instances of stillness and presence, suspended between past events and imminent occurrences. As Azzam bears witness to his surroundings, his works become powerful reflections on how we understand the world and time.

Tammam Azzam installation view Ayyam Gallery Dubai. Photo by Pia Torelli

About Tammam Azzam

Born in 1980 in Damascus, Syria, Tammam Azzam trained at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus, specialising in oil painting. Initially known for a ‘hybrid form’ of painting with diverse media, he explored tactile interactions and unconventional materials. Amidst a successful career as a painter in Syria, he ventured into digital media during the conflict, creating widely recognised works, including the viral “Freedom Graffiti.” Returning to painting with the “Storeys” series, Azzam depicts the devastation in Syria through expressionist compositions. He has contributed to international exhibitions, showcasing his work at renowned venues, and receiving an artist fellowship at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study in Delmonhost in 2016.

Location: Ayyam Gallery, Dubai, UAE

Dates: 8 January – 20 February 2024

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